It’s unlikely you would go out of your way for a cup of aged tea, even if someone told you it was a delicacy.  However, there is an exception to everything.  Pu-erh is an unusual kind of tea; in fact, many people think it tastes better when it is old.  Much like wine, it gets better with age.

Pu-erh, however, has a multitude of exceptional qualities that make it well worth trying, whether the buds are old or young.  For instance, pu-erh is made from tea leaves that are broad, making the leaves a little different in chemical composition.  Fortunately, for those interested in weight loss, this chemical composition helps burn more fat than many other teas.

The way in which pu-erh tea is processed is also notable.  Aged pu-erh, or shu, is a post-fermented tea, but its younger variant (sheng) is a green tea.  In fact, there are four kinds of pu-erh – maocha (green leaves), green/raw, ripened/cooked, and aged raw (considered the best).  Although not all pu-erh is extremely expensive, raw pu-erh, aged from 10 to 50 years, can run thousands of dollars per ounce.

To prepare a delicious cup of pu-erh, you might consider buying mushroom pu-erh, or tuocha.  These varieties are smaller and easier to steam.  To serve it correctly, try gongfu style, using yixing teaware or a gaiwan teacup.  Steep your pu-erh for about five to ten minutes if you want a deep, dark taste.  It is acceptable to steep this aged variant for awhile as the slow oxidation and protracted fermentation process make pu-erh less astringent than some teas.

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